Yes: the rumors are true. The Premier League, which by no means actually went away, has returned. And it felt fairly good on a sultry Friday evening, watching an Arsenal crew of keen new transferring elements do a wonderful job of elevating some tender early-season hopes at Selhurst Park.
It was 24 levels in South London as kick-off approached on the earliest date the English high tier has ever began. This was a desiccated sort of warmth, the grass scorched white, the sky a deathly blue. The English summer time does no less than have a way of irony. To keep away from the Gulf solar, the Premier League will as a substitute play by way of a heatwave in England.
For all that this was a enjoyable, breezy begin to the season. If final week’s Community Shield felt like a sort of visitation, soccer reimagined as a 90-minute Sopranos dream sequence, there was a well-known tang to this. A London derby. A densely coiffured techniques supervisor. That sallow summer time solar. Maybe this was actual in any case.
It is a query which may additionally apply to Arsenal in a season that may outline the work thus far of Mikel Arteta. They kicked off with a daring beginning 11, the sort of 11 that will get bandied round on fan chats, the hopeful 11, the cake for breakfast 11. Saliba! Martinelli! No filler! Except perhaps Granit Xhaka! But that is positive, he is additionally good now!
By the tip of a hard-fought 2-0 victory, a scoreline that fails to mirror Crystal Palace’s resilience between the objectives, it felt as if one thing would possibly simply be stirring right here. Gabriel Jesus was good. Oleksandr Zinchenko was good for some time. William Saliba was superb, and will draw essentially the most consideration.
Saliba made seven clearances with out ever having to make a deal with. His passing was stable. He did not look flustered and even very drained by the tip, a step up on the fraught, snot-stained showings of Arsenal center-backs previous. He cruised by way of this, teasing issues out a couple of seconds in advance inside his head. This is nice. Where has he been once more?
If the sport was reassuringly brisk, for opening-day TV viewers there have been some disconcerting developments in the Sky Sports protection. Before kick-off Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have been dispatched to do vox pops with followers, a step up from going out to fetch some milk, however a watering down of the function of knowledgeable analyst. Why not go all the best way and simply stick them in a pub someplace?
Gaz and Carra did their finest. But frowning blokes in duplicate shirts are in plentiful provide outdoors the paywall. Forensic, graphics-laden content material is what individuals pay their subs for.
Then there was the bizarre, claustrophobic prospect of Patrick Vieira being pressured to mouth breathless platitudes at half-time. This was disagreeable for all involved. Vieira would not need to do that. He isn’t a part of the spectacle at that stage. This isn’t American wrestling simply but. Stop over-producing this factor. The sport is nice. Trust it.
And each of those groups have been good, Arsenal proper from the beginning. Gabriel Jesus did one thing sensible with three minutes gone, stealing the ball 40 yards from the objective and producing a nutmeg and a sidestep. For lengthy durations these pink away shirts, the colour of heat-damaged processed ham, discovered neat zippy little triangles. Zinchenko was excitingly cell, taking extra touches in the opening half hour than anybody else on the pitch.
He had a hand in the opening objective, discovering 5 yards of untended area by making a looping run from the sting of the field. He headed the ball again. Martinelli nodded it in.
Jesus was additionally fast on his ft, and determined to dribble and flip. He is in define precisely what Arsenal wanted: urgent, edge, authority. Perhaps individuals have forgotten how good he’s, or how good he was meant to be. Between them Jesus and Martinelli had eight dribbles and 4 pictures in the opening half hour of the season. They performed collectively for Brazil in opposition to Japan in Tokyo in June. They needs to be this good.
Palace have been depleted by accidents and the lack of gamers. Expectations are low, which could simply be a helpful place to be, however Vieira actually appears to know what he is doing and which gamers to belief. They pressed Arsenal again both aspect of half-time, and used Wilfried Zaha as a weapon in opposition to Ben White. But it was additionally an opportunity for Saliba to indicate his qualities. Plus Arsenal have Saka, who made the second objective, forcing Marc Guéhi to deflect a tough low cross into his personal internet.
For Arteta the trajectory is evident from right here, a time to ship on the funding in time and assets. But they’ve a mode of play and a blueprint. The shadow of the good Arsène has handed. The flaws listed below are this crew’s flaws, the strengths that Arteta has grafted on. Whisper it, however this was truly fairly encouraging.